I don’t understand the five ways
#1
So, while I do believe Aquinas was a brilliant mind and I think his five ways proving God’s existence are beautiful; I cannot help but think they are essentially, especially ways 1-4, repetitions of the same argument of infinite regression. Are these all repetitive postulations of the same essential theory or are they fundamentally different arguments?
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#2
1-3 all work from the principle that there cannot be an infinite chain of causation. It is like Aristotle's argument in Metaphysics Book II. C.f. Caleb Cohoe's article, "There must be a First: Why Thomas Aquinas Rejects Infinite, Essentially Ordered, Causal Series". I can send you a pdf if you want.
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#3
(06-22-2022, 05:33 PM)Byzantine2022 Wrote: So, while I do believe Aquinas was a brilliant mind and I think his five ways proving God’s existence are beautiful; I cannot help but think they are essentially, especially ways 1-4, repetitions of the same argument of infinite regression. Are these all repetitive postulations of the same essential theory or are they fundamentally different arguments?

The first four of the five ways are similar syllogisms with the same Major premise of no infinite regress in essentially subordinated causes.

The minor premise is different, applying the Major premise to three of the four causes: Material, Formal, and Efficient Causality.

The first way, the argument from motion/change considers material causality with a reference to efficient causality as the cause of motion.

The second way is directly about efficient causes.

The third way, about contingency, is about this limited aspect of formal causality or the nature of things, so contingent vs necessary beings.

The fourth way, also touches on formal causality, by looking at the various natures of beings in general on the level of perfection. It's a slight variation on the original Major premise, but essentially the same idea.

The fifth way is a different syllogism being about how the fact that all things act in an orderly manner (e.g. according to natural laws) shows they act for an end, and that would require, for non-intelligent creatures, this purpose or end be given by some intelligent cause.
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#4
(06-22-2022, 05:58 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: The first four of the five ways are similar syllogisms with the same Major premise of no infinite regress in essentially subordinated causes.

I think this premise is the sticking point for most people. Aquinas proves it in the First Way, like Aristotle does in the Metaphysics. The Cohoe article I referenced helped me to understand why the infinite regress is impossible.
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#5
(06-22-2022, 05:56 PM)Filiolus Wrote: 1-3 all work from the principle that there cannot be an infinite chain of causation. It is like Aristotle's argument in Metaphysics Book II. C.f. Caleb Cohoe's article, "There must be a First: Why Thomas Aquinas Rejects Infinite, Essentially Ordered, Causal Series". I can send you a pdf if you want.
Sure!
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#6
(06-23-2022, 01:11 AM)Byzantine2022 Wrote:
(06-22-2022, 05:56 PM)Filiolus Wrote: 1-3 all work from the principle that there cannot be an infinite chain of causation. It is like Aristotle's argument in Metaphysics Book II. C.f. Caleb Cohoe's article, "There must be a First: Why Thomas Aquinas Rejects Infinite, Essentially Ordered, Causal Series". I can send you a pdf if you want.
Sure!
I'd like the pdf as well. I think I understand the Quinque viæ, but I'm always interested in learning in more depth.
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#7
(06-22-2022, 05:58 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote:
(06-22-2022, 05:33 PM)Byzantine2022 Wrote: So, while I do believe Aquinas was a brilliant mind and I think his five ways proving God’s existence are beautiful; I cannot help but think they are essentially, especially ways 1-4, repetitions of the same argument of infinite regression. Are these all repetitive postulations of the same essential theory or are they fundamentally different arguments?

The first four of the five ways are similar syllogisms with the same Major premise of no infinite regress in essentially subordinated causes.

The minor premise is different, applying the Major premise to three of the four causes: Material, Formal, and Efficient Causality.

The first way, the argument from motion/change considers material causality with a reference to efficient causality as the cause of motion.

The second way is directly about efficient causes.

The third way, about contingency, is about this limited aspect of formal causality or the nature of things, so contingent vs necessary beings.

The fourth way, also touches on formal causality, by looking at the various natures of beings in general on the level of perfection. It's a slight variation on the original Major premise, but essentially the same idea.

The fifth way is a different syllogism being about how the fact that all things act in an orderly manner (e.g. according to natural laws) shows they act for an end, and that would require, for non-intelligent creatures, this purpose or end be given by some intelligent cause.
So all of the arguments depend on the principle of sufficient cause? that every event must have a cause? Let us suppose that you are at Baskin Robbins and you choose to buy a strawberry ice cream cone. Now this event had to have a sufficient cause. But if this event was caused by something else, would that not mean that you do not have free will, but that this event was determined because of the law of sufficient cause? There was a cause and a reason why this choice had to be made?
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#8
(06-23-2022, 09:25 PM)AlNg777 Wrote: So all of the arguments depend on the principle of sufficient cause? that every event must have a cause? Let us suppose that you are at Baskin Robbins and you choose to buy a strawberry ice cream cone. Now this event had to have a sufficient cause. But if this event was caused by something else, would that not mean that you do not have free will, but that this event was determined because of the law of sufficient cause? There was a cause and a reason why this choice had to be  made?

Not everything has to have a cause, and that's the whole point. A thing is either caused, or it's not. If it's caused, the thing that caused it was either caused, or it wasn't. And so on, and so on, until you reach something that is Uncaused. "And this everyone understands to be God".

Now if you are asking whether everything created is caused... well, yes. That seems pretty obvious to me. Your will, too, is caused, but that does not mean it is determined. Why did you choose strawberry? Because, you like it more than chocolate.
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#9
(06-23-2022, 10:26 PM)Filiolus Wrote: Why did you choose strawberry? Because, you like it more than chocolate.
And what caused you to like strawberry? by the principle of sufficient cause there must be a cause for every contingent event? since there was a cause why you like strawberry and no other flavor, this choice had to be made, i.e., you did not have a free choice. Your free choice was an illusion. Or are there events in the contingent universe which are uncaused?
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#10
(06-23-2022, 10:58 PM)AlNg777 Wrote: And what caused you to like strawberry? by the principle of sufficient cause there must be a cause for every contingent event? since there was a cause why you like strawberry and no other flavor,  this choice had to be made, i.e., you did not have a free choice.

No, that doesn't follow. Of course there's a reason you like strawberry more than chocolate. That reason might be sentimental, nostalgic, cultural, or even biological. But that doesn't mean that you didn't freely choose to order that item. A choice need not (in fact, cannot) be free from outside influence in order to be free. But those influences are not determining. I think this is the issue; you are conflating determining factors with causal ones.

I might suggest reading Question 83 of the Summa.

Quote:Or are there events in the contingent universe which are uncaused?

No.
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